Earlier today we projected the 40-man roster and payroll. Now let’s take a look at the 25-man roster and lineup.
25-Man Roster Projection and Lineup (notes and explanations on the projection can be found following the roster)…
- Projection is based only on players currently in the organization. The projection will be updated when players are acquired via free agency or trades.
- Lineup: The only remaining question mark is right field. The recent report that the Rays are interested in Gabe Kapler suggests that they are leaning towards a platoon with Gabe Gross to start the season. That leaves Matt Joyce in the minor leagues.
- Bench: Willy Aybar and Ben Zobrist figure to see plenty of playing time at various positions and both could be part of the right field rotation. Shawn Riggans seems safe, as he looked solid with the bat. But he needs to show marked improvement behind the plate. Base stealers were 24-25 against Diesel, and the one caught stealing was on a pitch out. The final spot is wide open but figures to be a player that can bat right-handed and play right field. Gabe Kapler, Rocco Baldelli, Fernando Perez and Justin Ruggiano all fit the bill.
- Rotation: The only question remaining is whether David Price is deemed ready in spring training. We have already made a case for King David starting the year in triple-A. If he does, the last spot will go to Jason Hammel, Mitch Talbot or Jeff Niemann, with Niemann having the edge.
- Bullpen: Six spots now appear spoken for if and when Troy Percival is healthy. That leaves one spot for a long reliever. Jeff Niemann and Jason Hammel are out of minor league options, and one figures to be the long reliever. The other could start the season in the rotation or be traded. If David Price is in the rotation and Percival is on the DL, both could be used in the bullpen to start the season to give the rotation extra rest in the first month or two of the regular season. At this point, the Rays’ lefty-specialist appears to be right-hander Joe Nelson. Only the Rays.
- As a Rule 5 draft pick, Derek Rodriguez must be on the major league roster or be offered back to his original team. We don’t see a spot for Rodriguez, but we think the Rays will work out a deal to keep Rodriguez in the organization. It would likely cost the Rays a low-level minor leaguer or cash.